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Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft carrying asteroid soil samples nears Earth

Topics Covered: Awareness in space.

Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft carrying asteroid soil samples nears Earth:


Context:

Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft left the asteroid Ryugu a year ago and is expected to reach Earth and drop a capsule containing the precious samples in southern Australia on December 6.

  • The soil samples and data from the asteroid could provide clues to the origins of the solar system.

Hayabusa2 project:

It is an asteroid sample-return mission operated by the Japanese space agency, JAXA.

It was launched on 3 December 2014 and rendezvoused with Ryugu on 27 June 2018.

  • It carried multiple science payloads for remote sensing, sampling, and four small rovers that will investigate the asteroid surface to inform the environmental and geological context of the samples collected.

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The scientific objectives of Hayabusa2 mission are twofold:

  1. To characterize the asteroid from remote sensing observations (with multispectral cameras, near-infrared spectrometer, thermal infrared imager, laser altimeter) on a macroscopic scale
  2. To analyse the samples returned from the asteroid on a microscopic scale.

What is the significance of the mission?

Ryugu is a C-type asteroid – a relic from the early days of the Solar System. Scientists think that C-type asteroids contain both organic matter, and trapped water, and might have been responsible for bringing both to Earth, thereby providing the planet with the materials necessary for life to originate.

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InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About Hayabusa Mission.
  2. Objectives of Hayabusa2 mission.
  3. Asteroid Ryugu.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of the Mission.

Sources: India Today.